Special to the Herald
GENEVA, Ill. — For the second straight outing, Clinton right-hander Taylor Stanton prepared to take on a struggling Kane County club. For the second straight outing, he’d limit them to two runs, this time on six hits over seven innings as the LumberKings claimed a 6-2 victory over the Cougars in Midwest League baseball Friday night at Elfstrom Stadium. Stanton (5-2) got into trouble just once, yielding a single to Kent Walton and double to Myrio Richard to start the fourth. Back-to-back RBI groundouts by Anthony Aliotti and Rashun Dixon cut the LumberKings’ lead to 4-2. Stanton would allow just two more hits and three baserunners following that inning. The LumberKings scored four times against left-hander Justin Marks in the top of the fourth. Vinnie Catricala lined a single through the right side to score Nick Franklin and later came home on a Kalian Sams double down the left-field line. Two batters later, Mario Martinez lifted a two-run homer off the top of the scoreboard — his fifth of the season — to give the Kings a 4-0 lead. Clinton answered Kane County’s two-run outburst with a pair in the fifth. Steven Baron singled and scored on Daniel Carroll’s triple just inside the first-base bag. Catricala then lifted a flare to right-center that sent Carroll home for a 6-2 lead. Marks (1-6) allowed all six runs on seven hits over five innings. The LumberKings loaded the bases in the seventh and eighth innings, yet could not score insurance to the lines of right-handers Kyle Christensen and Bo Schultz. Right-hander Jose Guzman added a scoreless ninth. After Stanton’s exit, right-hander Chris Kirkland continued the dominance. He retired all six in a row, including four on strikeouts. Catricala led the way for Clinton, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Sams reached the 30-RBI plateau with his double, going 1-for-5. Martinez’s fifth home run produced his 27th and 28th RBIs. The win, coupled with Quad Cities’ loss puts the Kings just a half game out of second place. Walton and Richard each went 2-for-4 with a run scored in the losing effort for the Cougars, who have lost nine of their past 10 games. The LumberKings (28-21) take on Kane County (21-28) in Game 2 of the four-game series at 6 p.m. today. Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (3-2, 2.06 ERA) makes his sixth start of the season for Clinton.